As the Major Indoor Soccer League playoffs start tonight, you almost certainly know that the Chicago Riot will not be one of the three teams competing in post-season play. The Riot finished in last place with a 5-15 record. The Omaha Vipers finished in 4th at 7-13, the Missouri Comets secured the third and final playoff spot with a 8-12 record while the Baltimore Blast and Milwaukee Wave proved to be the class of the league tying at the top with 15-5 records. Anytime a team finishes with a 5-15 record like Chicago there are bound to be a lot of downs but we'll cover the ups and the future prospects of the Riot after the break
Three Lowest Moments of the Season
The Chicago Riot entered the game needing to win out the season just to provide a chance of getting into the playoffs. Riot team MVP Bato Radoncic scored a goal 24 seconds into the game and the Riot ended the first quarter up 5-2 thanks to a Robert Gallo 3-point goal. The Comets took over the rest of the game going on a 21-2 run before all was said and done. The score is a tad misleading as Chicago moved it's goalie up as a sixth attacker for almost all of the 4th quarter but the loss did sting more and more as the score went higher and higher. The Chicago Riot would not be going to the playoffs in their inaugural season.
Coming off a December 19 victory against the Missouri Comets, the Riot had a chance to start the New Year off right while setting the Comets back to a 2-7 record. Chicago had a 7-4 lead in the 3rd quarter and a 9-7 lead in the 4th quarter but squander both and went into overtime 9-9. The Comet's Jamar Beasley scored the goal that put the dagger in the Riot's hearts four minutes into sudden death. It proved to be a turning point for Missouri as it kicked off a 6-6 finish for the Comets that got them into the playoffs. It could have been the Riot... it could have been the Riot.
This was not a low at first, in fact fans were very excited when Anthony Maher was signed. Maher is a MISL veteran who would bring a lot of firepower to a team that looked pretty good defensively but came up short in their first two games 10-7 and 10-6 respectively. However, this move became a low that burned slowly over time. Maher only played three games in December before injuring his cheek and being ruled out for 4-6 weeks. Between his recovery and missing the occasional game for 'personal reasons', Maher only played in two other games. His 2.6 points per game (only second to Bato Radoncic's 2.7 points per game and well ahead of next in line Novi Marojevic's 1.4 points per game) show the talent that was there but his inconsistency to simply get on the field made him a bust. Once the Riot were eliminated from the playoffs, it didn't make any sense for the team to continue to pay Maher and he even ended up signing with the Missouri Comets for their playoff run.
Three Highest Moments of the Season
Some nights are to remember forever. This was one of them. If the Chicago Riot disappeared tomorrow, they will always be remembered for bringing together so many great Chicago soccer legends. I could go on and on but pictures are worth 1,000 words and there are a bunch at the link and all over the web. Major kudos to Peter Wilt, Tom Dunmore and many more for making this happen.
Chicago was 1-6 going into this game. The starting goalie Jeff Richey had just gotten injured. The Baltimore Blast were coming into town sporting a 6-2 record. The Riot turned to 37 year-old journeyman Ante Cop to take over at goal. It sounded like a disaster but they won in 'if Disney wrote this you wouldn't believe it' fashion. If you don't remember or didn't hear about the game, be sure to read the whole story.
As much as Anthony Maher was an expensive veteran signing gone bust, the play of rookies Eric Duda and Alex Megson were bright signs for the future of the Chicago Riot. I was fortunate enough to vote in the MISL Awards and something struck me about the other teams. Milwaukee Wave did not have any rookies and the Baltimore Blast only had Richard Costanzo who didn't even play. The Missouri Comets and Omaha Vipers had several rookies but did not get production from all of them. Only Ryan Junge of Omaha and Brian Harris and Lucas Rodriguez of the Missouri Comets had an impact that could possibly rival what Eric Duda and Alex Megson gave to the Riot. I think Eric Duda was the clear Rookie of the Year and that's how I hope the other voters voted too. Fortunately for the Riot, Duda is from the area and continues to live in Chicago. Alex Megson is from Washington so we hope he will stick around but that is up in the air.
What Does the Future Hold?
One thing that cannot be overlooked when talking about the 2010-2011 Chicago Riot is timing. When we interviewed Peter Wilt on the formation of the Chicago Riot, the team had just been announced and it was October 25. Meanwhile the MISL announced the Missouri Comets on July 12, 2010 and the Omaha Vipers on August 18, 2010. When Omaha completed its roster on November 2, the Riot were about a week old. Peter Wilt put together a competitive team with less than a month's notice before his first game and he did it with the players that all the other teams chose not to sign. The Riot were filled with not just veterans but quality rookies who contributed more than any other set of rookies in the league. Chicago even defeated the Baltimore Blast twice - the team that finished first and the team that only lost 5 times all year. If that's what Wilt did with a couple of weeks notice, imagine what kind of team will take the field in 2011-2012 when they won't be the newest MISL team either.
The Chicago Riot also want to hear from you on what you think the future will hold. Check out their end of the year survey. It takes 1-2 minutes to fill it out but gives them a wealth of feedback... especially if you would like to see them play at the Sears Centre Arena or the UIC Pavilion next year.
Congratulations to the Chicago Riot on getting through their first season. We look forward to seeing what will happen with a full start.